I have the privilege each year to lead vision tours with pastors and mission leaders of North Carolina Baptist churches. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina strongly believes in investing money into a scholarship for those who go on these vision tours because we have seen partnerships form as a result of the tours. So what are the benefits of a vision tour? Today I want to share three key elements of a vision tour and encourage you to consider joining us for a vision tour in 2013.

Element #1: There is nothing like being there
You can watch videos, read blogs and hear statistics about a place, but until you get your feet on the ground it is hard to understand what a place is really like. When you immerse yourself into a city you taste the food, you hear the people, you see their homes and for at least a day you walk their streets. This is not to say God cannot still speak to us about a place, but in my experience, being on the ground seems to raise our antennae to what God is doing in a specific area.

Element #2: Future mobilization logistics
As you are touring a particular place, you are able to begin the logistical preparation of how your church will be able to carry out the sending element of your partnership. You can visit possible lodging options, locate food options and test out transportation options and other logistical pieces that will be important as you prepare to mobilize.

Element #3: Networking
One of the greatest benefits that has emerged out of our vision tours throughout the years has been networking. Church leaders from opposite ends of our state share the vision tour experience and often discover ways they can partner together to engage in the field. Networking also occurs among pastors, directors of missions and other planters on the field. They often learn new ways to work together just by having a cup of coffee with potential partners.

I want to encourage you to participate in a vision tour next year. The 2013 dates will be available soon, and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina provides our partnering churches a $100 scholarship to help offset the trip cost. For more information contact Mike Sowers at 800.395.5102 ext. 5654 or msowers@ncbaptist.org.

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